My wife and I loaded the dogs into our SUV and pulled out of the driveway. It was a Sunday afternoon and really no different than any other day of the week. The dogs made a nest out of their bedding we keep in the car and prepared for a nap. They always like to go for rides, and weren’t too particular about where we were going.
We drove down the busy state road near our house, turned off it, and cut through a neighborhood street to avoid the traffic. The dogs maintained their restful bliss. We approached a stop light and turned on the left signal. Out of nowhere, the dogs perked up, sat upright, stretched their necks as high as possible, and began a symphony of whines and barks.
Their vocals were not from fear or worry but from excitement. They knew exactly where we were at that point and couldn’t wait to arrive. They were at one of their favorite places: the big local park.
I believe that dogs, like some humans, have a sixth sense of knowing what’s going to happen before it actually happens. We hadn’t really mentioned to the dogs that we were going to the big park that day. So I don’t believe our words let them know where we were going. We’d tried our best not to get excited or even think about where we were going, but maybe they picked up on our visual clues we were subconsciously projecting.
We all like the big park and had been there many times before, so the drive there is nothing special. We almost drive there on autopilot, mostly on the same route and passing the same scenery. Maybe our dogs are so familiar with the drive that they know where they’re going.
The local pet supply store is another place our dogs are happy about. Once we arrive in the parking lot in front of the building, they become uncontrollably excited. They know that they’ll get to go inside the store, select a toy or treat, and smell all the wonderful doggy smells that a pet supply store provides.
What I find interesting is there’s no apparent trigger that would let them know we’re there. Often we don’t encounter any other dogs walking or doing their business outside. Seldom are there other dogs in nearby cars waiting to go inside or waiting for their human companions to reappear. We even visit several pet supply stores and take different routes, but that still does not interfere with their sense of knowing that they have arrived at a pet-focused store. However, we can park a store or two away and they won’t make a peep. They know that they won’t be going into the local department store or grocery store next to their favorite pet supply store.
We made several other visits to familiar locations on this afternoon. I ran into a local department store to purchase a couple of T-shirts that were on sale. We visited a local office supply store to look for a new phone headset. We went to a pizzeria to pick up a salad, calzone, and small pizza.
My wife and I took turns going into the stores while the other stayed in the car with the dogs. As we pulled up to each location, the dogs would look out the window and perk their ears. But after a quick check of the scene, they would lay back in their beds for a quick snooze. They weren’t excited about any of these locations and never made a sound.
Our daily visit to the local Starbucks does add some excitement to their routine. They’ll sit upright in the car from the time we leave the house until we arrive at the store. They wag their little nubby tails as they arrive at the drive-through window. They know that they’ll get recognized by our favorite baristas and will get a little doggy treat while they’re there. They’re excited to be there, but it’s a different excitement than going to the big park.
At Starbucks, they usually don’t make a sound. They sit politely and patiently as we gather our drinks and treats. They’ve learned that they need to stay quiet so we can place our order through the loudspeaker, and not to bark at others waiting in line. The only time you’ll hear a peep from them is if they think it’s taking too long to receive our order. Even then, it’s more of a low-pitched grumble instead of a high bark and squeal, like they do at the park.
I know that dogs have a keen sense of knowing and love their routines. They recognize their favorite places both visually and from the sense of the energy around their favorite places. They like how it feels to them and that it’s a fun place to be.
Does your dog recognize favorite places? Do they get excited before they arrive? Share your stories and photos in the comments.
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